Life Care Plans—Bolster Your Legal Case After Severe Injury
January 9, 2024
A severe or permanent personal injury can be life-altering. When a devastating accident occurs due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing, the injured party has the right to sue for damages.
But in the aftermath of an accident—when urgent medical needs, sudden expenses, psychological trauma, and perhaps early legal proceedings feel overwhelming and all-consuming—it can be not easy to even begin to consider the future.
How will this new and challenging reality impact the rest of your life? What will you need medically, psychologically, logistically, and financially to get on with your life in the most fulfilling possible way?
Your attorney must be able to present to the judge and jury a comprehensive, convincing, and well-documented assessment of your current and continuing needs and the actual costs associated with those needs to achieve a favorable settlement or award of damages.
A Life Care Plan Is Vital For Strengthening Your Legal Case And Planning For Your Future
A life care plan is a document that lays out a detailed projection of the injured individual’s current and anticipated care and calculates the expenses related to that care over a lifetime. This evaluation must be based on established standards, painstaking research (typically dozens of hours), input from diverse experts, and personal interviews.
Life care planners come from various professional fields, but many have a medical, rehabilitation, or psychology background. A qualified life care planner for your case should be credentialed, have experience and expertise in the specific type of injury you’ve suffered, and be able to present convincing evidence of your needs in a way that the judge and jury will clearly understand. They may also have to answer detailed questions regarding their accounting and assessment methods.
A life care plan helps ensure that your personal injury attorney can advocate for full and fair compensation for your injury. It also provides a blueprint for managing every aspect of your near- and long-term care.
While you may not need a life care plan in an accident case involving minor or temporary injury, it is crucial in cases of permanent, severe, or catastrophic injury such as traumatic brain injury, loss of a limb, severe burns, nerve or spinal cord damage, chronic pain, and so forth.
A life care plan is highly personalized and assesses all costs related to your injury and care, including but not limited to:
- Hospital and other medical bills
- Physical therapy/rehabilitation
- Expected surgeries and procedures
- Ongoing routine medical care
- Medical devices and supportive equipment
- Necessary modifications to home and vehicle
- Adaptive furnishings and appliances
- In-home services
- Short- or long-term care facilities (skilled nursing, assisted living, etc.)
- Loss of earning capacity / additional economic impacts
- Vocational/occupational therapy
- Psychological treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Lost functionality
Your life care planner may solicit input from:
- Hospital/medical records
- Medical equipment and supply vendors
- Home contractors
- A variety of expert witnesses
- Family, friends, colleagues
- Plaintiff (injured person)
A life plan must gauge costs about life expectancy—and demonstrate this to the jury because they will determine an award based, in part, on the plaintiff’s life expectancy. While the jury can consider many factors that affect life expectancy, the life care planner will estimate the injured party’s current life expectancy based on their health, lifestyle, occupation, activities, and life expectancy just before the accident. This assessment helps ensure that the victim is not unfairly penalized for a diminished life expectancy caused by the injury. It also helps paint a vivid picture of the accident’s true impact—what the victim’s life was like before severe injury and what it will take to restore the fullest and best quality of life possible post-accident.
How to Create A Life Care Plan
A life care plan must account, holistically, for the actual cost of living with serious or catastrophic injury. (Sadly, the family of a young victim, in particular, may face staggering costs over a lifetime). When possible, interviews with the plaintiff are particularly important for understanding how the victim’s situation has been permanently and irreparably changed by the accident.
To create a powerful and persuasive report to present in mediation, arbitration, or trial, a life care planner may incorporate visual aids such as slides and infographics.
An effective life care plan can streamline the legal process by offering a significant strategic advantage in negotiations with the insurance company. Ideally, it persuades them to reach a settlement rather than going to trial, where they could face an even bigger payout.
It’s important to note that a life care plan is necessary whether or not the accident victim has insurance, worker’s compensation, Medicare, or other benefits.
The skilled and compassionate California personal injury attorneys at Aitken*Aitken*Cohn have been helping survivors of tragic accidents gain justice and compensation for over 40 years. We understand the profound impact of debilitating injuries on victims’ lives, and we work with a wide array of experts—including California life care planners—to build the most robust possible legal case so you can get on with rebuilding your life.
Recently, our Orange County Brain Injury Attorneys obtained an $11.5 million settlement for a woman who sustained a severe brain injury due to medical negligence. The settlement will allow her to reach her fullest potential due to a lifecare plan that provides ongoing medical treatment and at-home nursing care.
Written on Behalf of Aitken * Aitken * Cohn